Canvassing The Hood
Art for our sake
Can artists work to enliven a city without gentrifying it?
Published: August 15, 2012
Philip Lauri will take part in the opening MicroFest panel discussion that begins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17, at Art Effect Gallery, 1420 E. Fisher Fwy., Detroit; 313-734-5555. For a full schedule of events, see the online version of this story; a pass to all events is $35.
What exactly is the relationship between art and community? MicroFest USA, a think tank hosted by the Network of Ensemble Theaters, seeks to explore this question by fostering discussion about art's impact on Detroit. The three-day festival includes panel discussions and neighborhood arts tours that are meant to engage creative members of the community.
"I see this as a bridge point between artists, urban planners and community organizers," says the fest's event coordinator, Ashley Sparks. "MicroFest is contributing to nationally making the case that the arts are as vital as a hospital to a healthy community."
Philip Lauri is the founder of Detroit Lives!, a small creative agency that specializes in film production and branding for a growing client base — but also takes on local projects, including documentary films and public art. Lauri will take part in the opening MicroFest panel discussion Friday, Aug. 17, at Art Effect Gallery.
"Traditionally, art and artists are seen as part of economic development — the idea that the starving artists move in, they make a place cool, the rent goes up, and then the artists are kind of pushed out," Lauri says. "[The panel] is about how we rethink that traditional, predetermined path and think about art and culture as a different kind of revitalization tool."
Art as a means for revitalization is the primary premise of the MicroFest conversation, and Lauri believes that repositioning artists in Detroit communities can be a strong part of rebuilding the city.
"I think people forget that art, culture and design all play an astronomical force in our daily lives. Everything has to be designed, envisioned, created, produced and manufactured, and those are all components of the arts. It's interesting to think about the larger role that the arts play in a city. Starting with this conversation is an important part."
MicroFest USA continues through Aug. 19 at various locations around Detroit and includes workshops, as well as dance, music and theater productions. On Saturday, participants choose from three different tours to examine the impact of art in the context of local neighborhoods, such issues as the justice system and incarceration, or community organizations. A town hall meeting on Sunday is a chance for an open discussion on various elements of community cultural development.
Kathleen Conley is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to email@example.com.
Micro Fest Detroit
Friday, Aug. 17, 2012
5 p.m. — MicroFest Bus departs WSU’s Ghafari Hall, 695 Williams Mall, Detroit, MI; 313-577-9700
Dinner break in Eastern Market (tinyurl.com/eateasternmarket)
6:30 p.m. ¾ Welcome and opening remarks at Art Effect Gallery, 1420 E. Fisher Fwy., Detroit; 313-734-5555; arteffectgallery.com
7 p.m. — Rogue HAA Panel: Art and Development in Detroit with Philip Lauri (Detroit Lives!), Mike Han (Street Culture Mash), Jela Ellefson (Eastern Market) and Oya Amakisi (U.S. Social Forum) at Art Effect Gallery.
9 p.m. — Performances from Monica Blaire, Hardcore Detroit, Tawana “Homeycomb” Petty, Will See, Invincible and DJ Stacey Hotwaxx Hale at Art Effect Gallery.
11 p.m. — MicroFest Bus returns to Ghafari Hall.
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012
Guests may attend one event for free – more than that, please register.
8:45 a.m. — MicroFest Bus arrives at Ghafari Hall
9 a.m. MicroFest Bus departs
Please note the bus will not return to Ghafari Hall until 10 p.m.
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Community Tour Tracks (three options)
Track A — Neighborhood Impact: Southwest Detroit
The Matrix Theatre will perform their latest play, Detroit Dreaming, about the future of Detroit. The Alley Project will spotlight a hands-on sculpture project made of recycled materials, celebrating the collaboration of artists, neighbors, and youth in the development of people and place. Tour Guide: Lisa Luevanos. Facilitator: Michael Rohd
Track B — The Urban Network: Art Impacting the Justice System
Performance and panel discussion about artists working in the prisons — with the formerly incarcerated, families of the incarcerated, lawyers and judges. 4TheatrSake presents Cell/Ships, a dance-theater piece based on interviews with people who have been incarcerated. Panel: Yusef Shakur, Buzz Alexander, and Hasan Davis. Facilitators: Sari Adelson, Dream Hampton.
> Email Kathleen Conley